A survival guide to pensions on divorce

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Picking apart your finances during a divorce can be a stressful experience. In an ideal world, you would split everything down the middle and part ways amicably, but this isn’t always feasible. Couples might have their money tied up in assets like property, cars and investments. To make things more complicated, sometimes you have to divide up assets you don’t even have access to.

Married couples with children often run into trouble when splitting up pension provisions. Pension division on divorce is a complicated business, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you are both willing to compromise and ready to be open and honest about your financial situation, agreeing on the financial settlement should be much easier. Here is everything you need to know about pensions on divorce.

50/50 splits are rare

Splitting everything down the middle would be the ideal scenario, but don’t expect everything to be so simple. When there are children involved, there is the expectation that their needs will be taken into consideration. Both spouses also need to be satisfactorily taken care of. If one spouse has given up their career to raise the children, this could have a significant impact on their pension. Any judge will want to ensure that both spouses and any children are considered when it comes to splitting up a pension.

Contributions aren’t everything

When you enter into a marriage, you agree to split everything down the middle. This is the definition of marital assets. Divorcing doesn’t reverse any of this, so you are no more entitled to your pension because you made the bulk of the contributions. If the marriage had continued, you wouldn’t consider the pension to be your own, so it’s difficult to argue this should be the case when you separate. There are more ways to contribute to a marriage than financially, and this is what matters the most.

State and private workplace pensions aren’t the same

Your state pension will likely remain unchanged, but your private or workplace pension will need to be listed in your marital assets. You’ll need to find out how much your pension is worth, and this can be complicated if you have moved jobs often. It can take up to three months to get a calculation of your pension value from your provider, and they might charge a fee.

Things change if you remarry

Your financial settlement will likely include provisions for what should happen if you remarry. In most cases, the court issues something called a “pension attachment order”. This will outline the pension or lump sum that is due to you. But these payments would stop if you remarry.

Your conduct matters

While it is a lesser part of the judge’s consideration, the conduct of both parties does matter. Attempting to conceal assets or mislead the courts could reflect poorly and lead to a smaller financial award and pension share. Likewise, if both spouses are open to compromise and willing to work together, this would reflect well. Your conduct throughout the marriage is also taken into consideration. For example, if you weren’t employed for long periods and relied on your partner to support you, this could reduce your share.

There are no winners

An important thing to remember when going through a divorce is that no one should feel like a winner in the end. But neither should either party feel like the loser. In an ideal world, both should feel that compromises have been made and a fair outcome has been reached. When it comes to pensions, couples often fail to see the significance of this, particularly if they aren’t approaching retirement age. It’s important to consider all aspects of your finances to ensure a fair outcome.

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